After having to decide between three Dragons fighting to invest in their luxury tea blend line "PHOM", things have taken off for 23-year old entrepreneur Omar Farag and his 24-year old partner Philip Perera.
The pair rejected Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones on Sunday night's episode of Dragon's Den to go with celebrity designer Kelly Hoppen, who offered a £50,000 investment for a 25% stake in their tea range.
This is just the latest step in their journey, having started their tea firm, Box of T, after meeting over a cuppa in the canteen as business students at Liverpool John Moores University. After surviving the Den, the pair are now about to get their PHOM tea range stocked in branches of luxury department store Selfridges in London, Manchester and Birmingham.
HuffPost UK caught up with Omar to find out more about the pair's business plans now they have just graduated.
How are you feeling after surviving Dragons' Den?
Everything has changed since being on the Den, we are always excited to see what will happen next. We had always wanted to get an offer from Kelly as she leads a healthy life and is all about design - which is really important to our products and brand, so when she made us an offer, we looked at each other and knew we had got who we wanted from the start.
How has Kelly been helping so far?
Kelly is amazing. She has put us in contact with all the right people for us to develop our product to where it is now. She will always pick up emails and answer the phone and gives us great advice on all aspects of the business.
Most of the accessories on the new site were selected by her as we knew she had the eye for what our customers will like and think is beautiful as well as functional.
So how did you get the idea for PHOM in the first place?
We started our company with a group of 5 of our course mates as part of a project at Liverpool John Moores University. The idea for a loose leaf tea company was born from Philip's love for tea. His mum used to own a teashop in Berlin and so he grew up around the smells and flavours of some great quality stuff.
After winning National and European awards, Philip and I decided we wanted to take the business on further, and after receiving a grant of €15k from Hyundai, we moved into an office and set up our online store.
Was it easy to set up?
Setting up this business, as with any I imagine, has presented us with a whole world of challenges. Nowadays everything changes and develops so quickly, your main challenge is being able to adapt with trends. For instance, Facebook changes its user interface every couple of weeks!
How is it different from other tea brands?
We only source the fullest and tastiest leaves from around the world. We never use the dust you might find in teabags and only use natural flavourings - nothing artificial in our tea! We’ve tried to create a young and fresh brand of loose leaf tea that a less traditional audience can connect with.
Our mission - to get the world drinking loose leaf tea - sits at the heart of our company ethos, with our Back-a-Brew Foundation donating one cup of tea to the less fortunate for every caddy of tea that we sell.
We aim to educate our customers in different teas, and change the perception that loose tea is luxury. PHOM from The Box of T is a premium, great tasting product and anyone can enjoy it.
How do your friends feel about you going into business? Are you two a rarity?
A lot of them think its really cool, and always tell us when they’ve seen our tea in one of the 30 cafes or restaurants who stock it across the North West of England. I’m not sure how many of our course mates have set up a business, we’ve only just graduated so everyone is kind of going travelling or taking some time out to decide what they want to do or have found a graduate job.
Why did you go to the Dragons? I presume the banks did not want to help...
We went to the Dragons because we knew where we wanted our business to be, and knew that the banks wouldn’t lend us money or be able to give us the expertise of a dragon. Going on the den means you can seriously speed up the development of your business, not only because you get the investment, but the Dragon you work with has been doing what they do successfully for a long time, and know how to connect you with the right people to get things done impeccably.
Do you have any advice for other business-minded young people?
Being your own boss is amazing, if you’re passionate about your business and have a clear vision about where you want it to be, it is easy being your own boss - you have a fire in your belly that motivates you beyond any work place incentives.
It involves a lot of lists and whiteboards and emailing people, but you get a satisfaction from every achievement that a line manager’s pat on the back at a normal job can’t compete with.
I would say, if you have an idea or you are passionate about something, go for it. When we’re young we have nothing to lose, no mortgage to worry about, and once you get into the normal world, all of the commitments of life and the security of a regular salary make it unlikely you’ll ever have a go again.
What are your future plans for PHOM?
Over the next few months we are trying to get the brand as accessible as possible, we want people who love loose leaf tea try PHOM and fall in love with it, just like we have. Kelly has helped us to get into Selfridges, which is amazing and we want to approach a other retailers, restaurants, cafes and hotels over the next few months so people can enjoy our loose leaf tea all over the country.
In the long term we have some great ideas. Other elements, but nothing we want to reveal yet, just keep an eye out for anything from The Box of T.
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